London: Chapman & Hall, 1844. Item #04566
A Fine Association Copy of Charles Dickens's Most Famous Christmas Book
The Exceptionally Rare "Trial Issue" with the Title-Page Printed in Red and Green
Inscribed “Christmas 1843” by the Brother of Dickens’s Illustrator for “A Christmas Carol”
DICKENS, Charles. A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1844.
First edition, first issue, the very rare so-called “trial issue,” with title-page printed in red and green and half-title printed in green; “Stave I;” text entirely uncorrected; yellow coated end-papers.
Small octavo (6 7/16 x 4 1/16 inches; 164 x 103 mm.). , 166, [2, ads] pp. Four hand-colored steel-engraved plates by and after Leech and four wood-engraved text illustrations by W.J. Linton after Leech. Contemporary ink gift inscription on verso of front end-paper "To Maria Linton/a Christmas present/from H.D.L./1843". (H.D. Linton was the co-founder of the illustrated periodical Pen and Pencil). He was the younger brother of wood-engraver William James Linton who contributed four wood-engraved illustrations to A Christmas Carol.
Original cinnamon vertically-ribbed cloth. Covers decoratively stamped in blind, front cover and spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt, all edges gilt. Binding matches Todd’s first impression, first issue, with closest interval between blind-stamped border and gilt wreath equal to 14 mm. and with the “D” in “Dickens” in perfect condition.
Inner hinges expertly and almost invisibly repaired, minimal wear to head of spine, imperceptible and very small closed splits to extremities of joints. Small rectangular colored bookplate of Mitchell S. Buck lightly tipped onto front paste-down. Bookplate of Bob Stilwell on inside of chemise. Loosely inserted is Mabel Zahn of Sessler's, Philadelphia typed 1940s description showing the textual points of the first issue and written in ink "This Copy has all points."
Overall, a wonderful copy of this great rarity, exceptionally clean and bright. Chemised in a quarter red morocco over red cloth slipcase, spine with five raised bands and two green morocco labels lettered in gilt.
The current Dickens bibliographer Walter Smith has examined an identical example at the W.A. Clark Library and accepted it as an authentic example of this rare issue. The red and green title-pages and the green half-titles are agreed to have been printed earlier (thus the “trial issue” moniker).
Charles Dicken's Christmas classic, written in a mere six weeks at a low point in Dickens's career, and published at his own expense, A Christmas Carol revived Dickens's fortunes, establishing a robust market for Christmas gift books that survives to this day. The characters of Scrooge and Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, are immediately recognizable even to those who've never read a word of Dickens: "'God bless us every one!' said Tiny Tim, the last of all. He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him." One of Dickens' favorite artists, John Leech would produce the illustrations for all his Christmas books.
H. D. Linton, was the younger brother of the wood engraver, landscape painter, political reformer, and Charles Dickens illustrator, William James Linton (1812-1897). In 1855 H.D. Linton together with his friend M. Edmond Morin, devised a new illustrated paper to be called Pen and Pencil. Morin furnished the money and contributed most of the drawings; H. D. Linton did the engraving (he had studied engraving with his brother and Orrin Smith); William James Linton edited the journal in conjunction with Mr. Macrae Moir. After about eight numbers Pen and Pencil succumbed to scarcity of capital. Maria Linton, nee Hoover (1815-1858) H.D. was most likely H.D. Linton’s sister, first cousin, or niece.
Smith, Dickens, II, 4. Calhoun & Heaney, especially pp. 35, 48-49.